Peter Decker's new novel, Saving the West, tackles so many issues central to our lives here in Southwestern Colorado. In it, John Marlow, a fourth generation Colorado rancher, has lost his family’s ranch to its creditors, while also losing his wife and son to a less stressful life in town. When the National Open Land Conservancy (NOLC) purchases the 60,000-acre ranch from the bank to save it from development, Charles Devlin, New York’s leading investment banker and NOLC’s chairman, ends up with the ranch, while gaining a generous tax credit and a gorgeous summer retreat for his family. He hires Marlow as manager, but John’s way of running the ranch quickly conflicts with the conservation ethic of Charles and his wife Amanda, and the profit expectations of Charles’ accountant, Fred Rigby. The Devlins expect the ranch to become an environmental showcase in the West, a region, they believe, is slowly destroying itself from mining, timber cutting, and over grazing. But John not only rebels, he retaliates as well. What ensues from there is mayhem involving eastern bankers, industrialists, and philanthropists being pitted against long-time local residents, Indians, and Durango's very own narrow-gauge railroad. The clash of John’s rural values with those of Charles’ urban culture serves as the back drop for Peter Decker’s gentle satire.
Peter R. Decker is a rancher in Ridgway, Colorado and an agricultural consultant in Denver. He received his Ph.D. in American History from Columbia University following his service in the US Army and has taught at Columbia, Barnard College, Manhattan College and Duke University. He served as a policy analyst and speech writer for Senator Robert Kennedy during his presidential campaign, and a war correspondent in 1970 for the Associated Press in Vietnam and Laos.
Decker resigned from the academy and moved permanently to his Ridgway, Colorado cattle ranch (The Double D)after he recognized that he preferred to look up the hind end of 1,000 heifers every day rather than attend another university faculty meeting. In Colorado, Decker has served on the Commission of Higher Education, the Federal Reserve Board of Kansas City (Denver branch), Commissioner of Agriculture for Colorado. He currently serves as a director of the National Western Stock Show (Denver) and a trustee of Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.
In addition to his books, Decker’s single film credit includes an appearance as a penguin in Andy Warhol’s It’s A Dog‘s Life. Decker is also the self-appointed commodore of the Ridgway Yacht Club.